Letter to Leaders of the Bar - changes to the CPS fee schemes
14 April 2023
Dear Leaders of the Bar,
We are pleased to be able to update you on the forthcoming changes to the CPS fee schemes.
Significant investment was made to CPS fee arrangements in 2020, following a comprehensive review, conducted in consultation with the Bar. One of the key outcomes was to deliver broad equivalence with defence fees. That has remained our stated position ever since and, with increases to defence fees introduced last autumn, we have been working hard to make the necessary changes to restore parity.
As you know, for that to happen, additional funding was required. However, having made a strong, evidence-based case to the Treasury, we were pleased to hear in early February that we had secured the necessary funding. This has allowed us to press ahead with bringing in increases and restoring parity with defence fees.
Alongside our conversations with Treasury, we have been in regular and constructive discussions with you and other representatives from the Bar Council and the Criminal Bar Association about the detail of any changes. We are grateful to all those on the Bar-side who have fed into that discussion and pleased that the final shape of the package for immediate changes was recently agreed. That being the case, we have accelerated implementation and will go live on 2 May 2023.
The changes are as follows:
- Increasing all CPS fee rates by 15% increase, including the Graduated Fee Scheme (GFS), the Very High Cost Case (VHCC) fee scheme, and magistrates’ court and Youth court fee arrangements
- Introducing a 10% case uplift for sentence hearings where multiple cases are sentenced on the same day
- Introducing a new fixed fee of £670 ex. VAT for section 28 cases – equivalent to that now paid under the Advocate Graduated Fee Scheme (SI 2023 No. 97). This will be subject to review
- Increasing VHCC Led Junior rates to pay the equivalent of the revised VHCC Junior Alone rates.
- Including Streamlined Forensic Reports within the GFS page count
All the changes will apply to hearings in existing and new cases from 2 May 2023, and to new or ongoing VHCC stages. The full detail of the new arrangements, which we continue to work on jointly, will be published on the CPS website in advance of implementation and shared with the key stakeholders.
As we have agreed, our intention is to monitor the position in respect of section 28 cases over the coming months, mirroring the approach being taken by Ministry of Justice colleagues on the defence fee arrangements. This will allow us to review ongoing case volumes and the fee payment model. We will also continue to engage with you more generally about remuneration to ensure the fees schemes remain fit for purpose. We trust, however, that this additional investment, together with that made in 2020 along with the interim changes brought in during Covid, shows our commitment to prosecution advocates and their contribution to our work.